Orioles designate Rio Ruiz for assignment, bring back Stevie Wilkerson - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles designate Rio Ruiz for assignment, bring back Stevie Wilkerson

The Orioles have designated infielder Rio Ruiz for assignment and have replaced him with Stevie Wilkerson from Triple-A Norfolk.

Ruiz was batting .167 with three home runs and six RBIs in 32 games. In three seasons with the Orioles, Ruiz, has batted .220 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs. The Orioles claimed him on waivers from Atlanta on December 10, 2018.

Ruiz’s most memorable moment with the Orioles came on August 11, 2019. A day after the Orioles lost to the Houston Astros, 23-2, Ruiz hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Manager Brandon Hyde called the conversation with Ruiz “extremely difficult, someone who’s been here the better part of three years. A guy that everybody really likes a lot. He’s a clubhouse favorite. He’s a coaches’ favorite. He’s easy to like. He’s easy to coach. When you get to know somebody not only on a professional level, but a personal level, when you’re around players as much as we are, it’s an extremely difficult day to say goodbye.

“He’s going to go through the waiver process. Whatever is best for him, I hope it works out, whether it’s with us or with another club.”

Wilkerson, who is being added to the 40-man roster, hit .219 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in 2018 and 2019 for the Orioles. He missed last season because a fractured left ring finger suffered in an exhibition game five days before Opening Day.

“He lost a year of at-bats last year,” Hyde said. “He had a chance to make the club.”

He was hitting .357 with a home run and three RBIs in 12 games with Norfolk.

“It’s nice to know the opportunity to get rewarded is there,” Wilkerson said. “I think a lot of guys will get inspired by moves like this by our team and other teams. If you put your best foot forward, then there’s a chance that good things can happen.”

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Wilkerson brings versatility. He has played every position but catcher and first base for the Orioles. On July 25, 2019, he became the first position player to record a save in major league history when he pitched a scoreless 16th inning against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I love the energy that Stevie brings, both on the field and off the field in the clubhouse,” Hyde said. “He is extremely well-liked by everybody here. It’s easy to like him because he plays so hard and he’s got a great personality. He’s funny. Players are drawn to him. He just brings a ton of personality to our club, and he’s off to a really good start at Norfolk. He brings flexibility  from a roster standpoint if you want to play him at different spots, be able to move him around the field.

“He’s swinging the bat well right now. Hopefully, he’ll be able to give us a boost offensively. I’m excited to see Stevie today.”

The switch-hitting Wilkerson is batting ninth and playing second base for Tuesday night’s game against Tampa. In 2019, he was forced to play center field, but he’s happy to be back in the infield.

“It’s comforting,” Wilkerson said. “I’m excited to get out there at second base tonight. Obviously, that’s where I’ve played the most throughout my career, but I’m just excited for any opportunity I have on the diamond. I don’t really care what position it’s at.”

Hyde said that Wilkerson and Pat Valaika will get playing time at second base.

“Both those guys can play different spots,” Hyde said. “I’d like to give Stevie a look. It’s a guy that’s grinded for a while. Both him and Pat have some time in the big leagues and play different places. Against more right-handed pitchers, Stevie’s going to get more of an opportunity. Against lefties, maybe Pat. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll probably go with the hot hand. Whoever’s swinging the bat the best and playing the best, I’ll be putting them in the lineup.”

After the Orioles signed Maikel Franco to play third base late in spring training, the Orioles decided to give Ruiz a shot at second base, and he started there in 17 games.

“It was everything I could ask for defensively,” Hyde said. “It’s not easy to do, to pick up a position at the end of spring training, do it with a great attitude, work his tail off every single day to get acclimated to the position. I thought he did great, turned double plays … made all the routine plays, made some nice plays as well. He did everything and more defensively.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. afterimage

    May 18, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    finally,rally killer ruiz is gone and wont be missed.a month too late wouldnt you say

    • 900E-33rdSt

      May 18, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      Rio Ruiz was batting just 0.063 with RISP this season. For his career, he has a 0.250 batting average with RISP. Very surprising DFA IMO…

  2. Icterus fan

    May 18, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    And Wilkerson should strike fear in opponents hearts.
    Oh, but he can pitch, though.
    I guess he deserves the promotion, but still…yawn…..

    I like our guys

    • 900E-33rdSt

      May 18, 2021 at 3:31 pm

      Batting 0.357 at AAA over 12 games, good deal for Stevie to get back on the 40-man roster. Hope he can build off his success at Norfolk. If he gets save #2 this season, drinks are on me!

  3. Shamus

    May 18, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    He had plenty of chances

    • 900E-33rdSt

      May 18, 2021 at 3:39 pm

      There seem to be a handful of clubs struggling at 3B so far this, especially in the field. I think Ruiz gets claimed and another chance…

  4. Bhoffman1

    May 18, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Stevie’s back a guy that can play many positions not well and barely hits 200. The only good thing is that Ruiz is gone.

  5. CalsPals

    May 18, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    For the final time, Blame it on Rio…go O’s…

  6. TxBirdFan

    May 18, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    Rio wasn’t helping at all so anything Stevie can do will be a benefit. I hope Franco is next.

  7. jimcarter

    May 18, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Moving out a .220 hitter with the O’s for a .219 hitter. Rebuild? More like treading water.

    • ClayDal

      May 18, 2021 at 5:07 pm

      Wilkerson was hitting.357 at Norfolk in 42 at bats. Whether that translates up here, who knows? Worth a shot.

    • Icterus fan

      May 18, 2021 at 6:01 pm

      Spot on, but wondering what our options are? What about Jones? Did I miss something?

      I like our guys

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 18, 2021 at 6:05 pm

        I think I read that Jones is hurt. But what about Martin?

        • 900E-33rdSt

          May 18, 2021 at 6:33 pm

          Oops, I see someone else already provided Martin’s batting average at Norfolk so far this year, my mistake!

    • ClayDal

      May 18, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      Jones is hurt. Might have been him if he was healthy

    • ClayDal

      May 18, 2021 at 6:20 pm

      Martin is hitting.178 at Norfolk. Guess they want him to play full time at SS. Wilkerson can play the OF and when Santander is back, they probably send down an OF

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 18, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    Meh …who cares. Afterall it’s all about 2023 isn’t it boys?

    Nah….not really …. Good for Stevie. Nothing to hang our hats on, but at least it’s a half step up from Urias.

    Letting Rio go must be breaking Mikey’s heart.

    • WorldlyView

      May 19, 2021 at 4:31 pm

      Not about 2023 unless absolutely everything goes right. And when was the last time that absolutely everything anywhere went right? No breakout talent at last place Norfolk. Our one excellent pitcher may be gone by the time he seeks the big bucks of free agency. We need to wait for the promising guys at AA and A to become dominating MLB starters. My crystal ball says it will be 2024 to rise comfortably above .500 record. 2025 for a genuine pennant contender. May we all be alive, well, and mentally sound at that time (and after).

  9. 900E-33rdSt

    May 18, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I like the approach of a lot of turnover, sending players down to AAA, DFA’ing those not performing. Kind of sends a message to those on the MLB roster and gives players in the minors – I guess at least at Norfolk, even those not on the 40-man roster, encouragement that if they play well, they might get called up to the Orioles sooner rather than later.

    Would like to see similar moves with some of the Oriole relievers not performing well (Armstrong and Lakins).

    Hoping 7-8-9 in tonight’s O’s lineup (Mountcastle, Sisco, Wilkerson) all have great games…

  10. Orial

    May 18, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    Can’t say Ruiz wasn’t given a chance. Almost like they begged him to succeed. Never thought I’d be glad to see Stevie back but in this case–why not. Jones should be here but in the present way of doing things in baseball—he injured himself. Getting back to Stevie(still can’t believe I have to call him that)-the “more things change with the O’s the more they stay the same”. Somewhere out there Joey Rickard is proud if this Orioles moment.

  11. Hallbe62

    May 18, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Back to back 3 Run JACKS !

    Disgusting. What else is on tv

    • CalsPals

      May 18, 2021 at 7:44 pm

      Harvey doesn’t even make it out of the 2nd, maybe Stevie will pitch tonight…lol…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 18, 2021 at 8:27 pm

        Don’t forget Valaika. Our other dual threat 2nd baseman / closer.

  12. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 18, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    Once again, I tune in during the bottom of the 2nd and once again ………

    • Icterus fan

      May 18, 2021 at 8:39 pm

      Hey look at the bright side Boog- at least you won’t have to watch Valdez labor through another save attempt.

      I like our guys

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 18, 2021 at 9:06 pm

        Your right Icty …I feel better already.

        Now drink your Pepsi dangit

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          May 18, 2021 at 9:21 pm

          You’re right … I hate it when I do that….

  13. Jeffpop

    May 19, 2021 at 5:50 am

    There must be somebody out there somewhere who can pitch better than Armstrong and/or Lakins. My 55 yr old girlfriend could light either one of them up .
    Please, please get rid of them and take Harvey with them too. So hard to watch – I switched to ‘Housewives of Glen Burnie’ for some real entertainment.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 19, 2021 at 8:50 am

      That’s funny!

    • Icterus fan

      May 19, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Sell that concept to the networks. I can see the caricatures now. Hilarious!!

  14. Orioleschatter

    May 19, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I am hereby down grading the O’S pitching staff from triple A to Double A.

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